(St. Louis, Missouri) - Fourteen years ago, in 2004, an 18-year-old rising star in boxing from St. Louis, Missouri got the thrill of his life, winning his fifth professional bout by unanimous decision at the Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden. Vaughn "The Animal" Alexander (11-0, 8 KOs) was on his way to the top, and nothing would stop him.
Except for prison.
After serving an 11-year sentence, Alexander resumed his professional boxing career in 2016, determined to pick up where he left off. Since his return to the ring, Vaughn has racked up six wins, remaining undefeated with a complete record of 11 wins, eight by knockout. The 32-year-old Alexander continues his remarkable comeback with a return to The Theater at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, March 3 on the Sergey Kovalev vs. Igor Mikhalkin non-televised undercard. It will be Alexander's first time back in New York City in all those years.
"The first time I fought there, it was quite an experience ... The second time coming to New York at the Garden, I'm ready to put on a good fight, doing what I do ... I'm definitely going to come steal the show!"
Alexander will face hard-hitting Mexican Jaime Solorio, 29, of San Quintin, Baja California, with a record of 12-3-2, including nine knockouts. Solorio is coming off a unanimous decision loss to D'mitrius Ballard. Their bout will take place at super middleweight (168 pounds).
Alexander acknowledges the element of Father Time. "Time is time, we all know that. You can't get time back - seconds, minutes, hours. All I can do is pick up where I am and fight as much as I possibly can," said Alexander.
Alexander says his years away from boxing helped in a way by preventing him from suffering the natural wear and tear of the being in the ring. As a result, he isn't fighting as a typical man in his thirties. "I'm preserved, I still feel like I'm 19 years old ... I'm not a 32-year old body-wise. I work out smart, I eat right, I have that mental capacity," explained Alexander.
With maturity comes the advantage of greater mental focus: "When I face someone in their 20s, when you have been in the game as long as I have, you know how to win," said Alexander. "You see where they make mistakes. You pick up on a lot of things I see in front of me. It's as clear as day. It's like slow motion for me, I see it a mile away. They are still learning how to win."
Alexander says he's dedicated to one goal: to have his hand raised in the ring as a world champion. "I'm trying to be the best fighter in the world. I'm not in this game to be mediocre, or good. I want to be the face of boxing," declared Alexander.
Because of the road he's traveled, Alexander knows he also has the opportunity to help other young fighters avoid the mistakes he made. "I don't proclaim to be a role model. But what I will do, I'll show what I went through as a platform so other guys don't have to make those types of mistakes.
"It's a rarity, such a short line that I was blessed with to do 11 years ago. I still have that hunger. I use that, not everyone who makes mistakes like that and goes to prison has the hunger to get out and do great things. I use my platform as someone who made mistakes on my rise up, 18 years old and still in the streets, straddling the fence. The streets don't win," said Alexander.
Alexander says for him, it's all about grit and the chance to be put to the test. "I'm looking for the right opponent to dig deep and pull a win out. I haven't had that yet. You have to have that hunger to want to do this and to want to be on top," said Alexander.
Might that opponent be Solorio? "I don't take any man lightly. I dissect whoever I'm fighting, and I know I'm going to be victorious," promised Alexander.
Alexander took time to thank his supporters, particularly in his home town of St. Louis. "I just want all those that support me to continue to support me. I hope I gain more fans to follow me after this fight. I'm definitely going to put on a good show," said Alexander. He promises to make the most of his second chance to shine on the biggest stage in boxing, Madison Square Garden.
About March 3: The Saturday, March 3 main event between Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev and Igor Mikhalkin is a 12-round match-up for the WBO Light Heavyweight World Title at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The co-main event features WBA Light Heavyweight World Champion Dmitry Bivol versus Sullivan Barrera in a 12-round title fight. Tickets range from $50 to $300 and are available online at TicketMaster.com and at the Madison Square Garden box office. The event is promoted by Main Events, Krusher Promotions and World of Boxing in association with EC Box Promotions, is sponsored by Medoff Vodka and Leon.ru and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing® beginning at 10:05 p.m. ET/PT.